I worked hard to find end of life goodness with my pups, Stella and Tibor. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I didn’t. Writing Peace in Passing: Comfort for Loving Humans During Animal Transitions did not spare me from my grief. But I tried to practice what I preached as often as I could.
Tibor was in rough shape at the end. He couldn’t walk up the stairs anymore; his back legs would collapse. At first, I thought it was just a recurrence of his Old Dog Vestibular Disease. But it didn’t resolve. So we moved him into the living room, which was a few steps away from the front door. Because he still had his pride and preferred to do his business outside.
Hope is a hard thing to squash
There were a lot of other issues, but this proved to me that his body was breaking down. Still, knowing this intellectually did not stop me from thinking, “What can I do next?” I thought, “Maybe on the next walk, Tibor’ll be back to trotting. It happened before; it could happen again.” But it didn’t.
Our last night included end of life goodness
That night, which was on a Friday, I decided to sleep on the couch in the living room with Tibor. Before I got comfortable, I moved the coffee table back so we could look at each other. My cats Shadow and Mac slept with me part of the evening. Shadow was at the end of the couch (thank goodness I’m SHORT) and Mac slept at the bend in my knees. My other cat, Bunnie kept my bed warm upstairs, knowing I’d be back eventually.
Sharing memories full of goodness
Tibor and I talked about what a great life he had. I shared memories of us walking and running with Stella at Fort Hunt Park. How I loved when he’d race ahead of me and Stella on the narrow trails in the woods. And then he’d wait for us slowpokes to catch up with him. We remembered our walks through the woods following deer trails from Colonel John Byers Park to our neighborhood.
Singing songs of goodness
I decided to sing ballads of Tibor the Tender-Hearted. Luckily, Tibor had gone deaf, so my bad singing didn’t affect his sensibilities. But he got the point of this silliness. How much he meant to me.
Waking up with a dream full of goodness
Saturday morning, I woke up from a dream that was more than a dream. I saw Tibor, Stella (who had passed the previous month) and Mitsubishi (who had passed in 2012), running together.
They took me outside what seemed like a hospital, where there were many dogs. And they picked a little brown dog to join them.
Not realizing what that dream meant, I took Tibor on his last walk. He completely collapsed as I helped him back to his bed. I held his head in my lap as he took his last breaths. I continued to hold and pet him as I realized he was truly gone.
I wonder if I have a little brown dog with a curly tail in my future.
Keeping the dream full of goodness close
I keep that dream close to my heart. But it’s a bit different now.
This morning, my dog Eddy came by in spirit to set me straight. She (yes, she!) let me know that she was also hanging out with Tibor. So, now I see “T” hanging out with Stella, Mitsubishi AND Eddy.
It doesn’t solve my grief, but reminds me that they’re all alive and well. That reality, full of goodness, is what’s getting me through.
What “end of life goodness” are you able to find for the loss of your beloved animal? I’d love to hear from you!